The Lez river in Montpellier has welcomed a striking new structure to its shores. The L'Arbre Blanc towers 17 stories over its surroundings in the southern French city, offering an abundance of apartment space on the inside and some particularly eye-catching features on the outside.

L'Arbre Blanc is the handiwork of an international team of architects including Nicolas Laisne Architectes, OXO Architects and Japan's Sou Fujimoto Architects. Those familiar with the lattermost's body of work may see a resemblance to an earlier design for a cluster of timber towers in Bordeaux, which also featured irregular balconies lining the outside.

That tower never quite got off the ground, making the L'Arbre Blanc Sou Fujimoto's first project in France. The rounded tower is inspired by its namesake – L'Arbre Blanc is French for "white tree" – with cantilevered balconies jutting out like branches and leaves. If you ask us it is more pinecone than tree, but hey, who are we to split hairs when it comes to trees and their woody organs.

Fifteen of the L'Arbre Blanc's 17 stories are dedicated to apartments, which number 110 in all. The bottom levels are home to a restaurant, art gallery and office spaces, while the top level hosts common space and a panoramic bar, which is open to not just the building's residents but the general public.

The tower is intended as a homage to the Montpellier tradition of "living outside." To that end, the site also incorporates an extension of an adjacent park and sits at the intersection of the Lez river, a pedestrian and cycling path and the old and new sections of the city.

Construction of L'Arbre Blanc was completed in May.

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